O how long will I watch?
When will I hold in my hands
this precious universal something
that somehow missed my cradle?
Stupid wretch. He thinks himself now alive.
What living thing e’er sat like silent stone
as life was wrung from him by Life’s cruel claws?
I hold joy inside.
Or perhaps it’s insanity.
This strange desire to laugh and cry and moan
at this stupid,
thing called “life”.
Oh, hush. Leave the air you fill with folly
for others to breathe. Stay down. Be silent.
Be still, my heart; o will you ne’er be still?
When, when, oh soul, will you your moanings cease?
Again, fool? Bite your tongue and bleed, wretch! Bleed!
Put down your fists, vile thoughts! Away, away,
and leave me! Peace, I beg! Peace! Filthy self,
show your featureless face for beating! PEACE!
Where!? Show me peace and I will yield! Show me!
WOULD YOU PLEASE SPEAK TO ME!?
I loathe you.
Because I want so badly to love you.
Maybe then I could let you believe it
when they speak the word
and act it for you…
But when will you be who you must be?
And who must I be?
Tell me this, and I will yield.
You can say nothing.
Because you know nothing.
Nothing of me.
Nothing of the world
you claim would like to snuff me out.
I know not.
And so I act not.
This is my most honest poem to date. And I think the only one where I acknowledge that I hate myself…and the only one where I acknowledge that somewhere in my heart, God tells me exactly what to do with what I’m feeling. And it wasn’t just the last few words.
It was the pauses, the silences. Where I could just be. And not torture myself with my thoughts.
I guess the super-perfectionist part of me just isn’t ever gonna be satisfied. I’m never going to be perfect, or exactly who I want to be. I’m never going to know everything that everyone else seems to know so easily. There’s no point in beating myself up and trying to shove in everything I can as quickly as possible. I can’t take life as if I’m playing catch-up. Because I’ll be playing on the losing side the rest of my life. And life isn’t a game.
It’s an opportunity. Not to be perfect. Not to be great. Not to take the world by storm. It’s just an opportunity to live and to love. That’s all. That’s it.
And that’s awesome.
“I shall bless the Lord at ALL times; his praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth.”
Y’know those people who have existential crises?
Apparently I’m one of them. Or so it seems.
I’m typing this on the floor of my dorm room, and after a solid hour laying flat with music blasting in my earbuds, I’m finding some semblance of peace at last. Or the closest thing I’ve known to peace for a few years. It’s not so much that everything has gone away, because it definitely hasn’t. I’m still laying here, feeling small, looking at the enormity of my problems while simultaneously realizing how ridiculous some people would think I am.
But right now, I’m looking at it all without feeling like I’m drowning. I’ve got just enough strength to keep breathing for awhile, and just enough hope to turn the next dark corner.
And after all, what else can we ask for?
I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess, that God still cares for me. But everything I’ve ever known about life and love is that, in the end, everyone leaves you, and you’re left behind.
So it’s always a refreshing, beautiful thing when God’s constant love hits me like a brick wall all over again. Every moment that He reminds me is a treasure, completely new and completely breathtaking. And it always comes right when I most need it and least expect it.
I guess it’s almost a good thing that I haven’t been able to make friends until recently. If I didn’t believe God’s love was constant and faithful and intimate, how could I believe that human love could hold possibly hold anything good? Even friendship.
And suddenly I find myself learning both of them at the same time, without ever fully taking it in. Every time, just every time, I can’t help but feel like my heart is gonna break from the healing joy thrusting out the memories and lies. And I cry easily, so it’s been a lot of tissue boxes to go through.
There’s really nothing like it, having everything fall apart only to realize you were seeing it from the angle, and God’s got all the pieces of your heart held right where they need to be. I haven’t quite gotten there this time, but somehow, I don’t need to know.
So even though the leap is still terrifying, even though stepping out of my comfort zone has strained every nerve to the breaking point, even though I know there’s probably many more broken nights in the near future, I think I just might make it through. Just as long as I throw myself into the arms of the Lord.
Still not sure if this is just me working myself out meta-cognitively, or if this actually works as a snippet of a story. So I’ll tag it as both and let you interpret it as you please.
“It’s really nice out.”
Well that was lame…c’mon, you can do better than that.
Greg kicked the nearest rock, then immediately regretted it. What if Lewis picked up on his frustration? Then questions, questions he wanted to answer but couldn’t.
He tried again. “The leaves changing and all, it’s really nice.”
That’s it? He’d wanted to say something about the way they seemed to glow on the branches, the way they fell with a kind of grace. He wanted to point out the way they spiraled upwards on the wind in little tornadoes, how they gleamed with the setting sun. He wanted to show him what he saw in the grass, the leaves, the very air that he breathed in to calm the machine gun going off in his chest.
And all he could manage was “It’s really nice”?
Lewis nodded. “Fall is my favorite season. It’s so beautiful.”
Damn…even that was better than what I said!
It was times like this Greg wished he could laugh it off like everyone else seemed to be able to do. Just laugh, and watch the frustration roll away on the shaking sound waves.
Lewis was rambling on, talking about his favorite memories of fall, what made them special–it was beautiful, the way he could let words flow out with such ease. Greg struggled to open the gates to his heart and catch as much of it as possible, let it rush in and sweep into the depths, where he could hold on to them and cherish them, let the memory float just the way he liked it–tingling, mildly intoxicating.
Then silence. Again.
Shoot. Now what?
Greg was about ready to kick himself. Well hey! It’s a hell of a lot better than I usually do! What more do you want!?
Gee, I dunno, maybe a little more CONVERSATION would be nice instead of being talked at!
Well maybe I COULD if you’d SHUT THE HELL UP!
Greg shook himself. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just not much to say.” Bullshit. He pulled his jacket a little closer and tightened the scarf around his neck. “We’re almost there, just a little bit farther.”
“Cool.” Lewis continued his way up the wooded hill, like he already knew where they were going.
Greg sighed quietly to himself, trying not to let his squirming stomach get to him. Was it always gonna be this difficult? No; he had to hold onto hope. There was ALWAYS hope. He knew that, even if he didn’t feel it.
So he listened to the crunching of the leaves until they came to the top of the hill, the view he’d insisted on showing Lewis. It was peaceful up here, and a nice almost-silence, looking down on a little creek with tree-speckled slopes climbing up both sides.
Please…try. Just try.
“Lewis?” He didn’t dare to turn to see if he looked. “I’m sorry I suck so much at conversation. I wish I could tell you everything I was thinking right now.”
Lewis’s voice was lower, more soothing. “It’s ok. I know you’re trying.”
Greg chuckled a little. “It’s so easy for you, your words are like that creek. They flow so nicely, so simply. Even if they’re not perfect, they’re there, and they flow in a peaceful rhythm. Mine-” He pulled his hand out of his pocket to swing it at the trees-“they’re like the leaves; they only fall some of the time, and they just keep blowing away from me.”
Lewis nodded. “I understand. But maybe that makes them more special when you catch them.” He shrugged. “I dunno, I like that you listen so well. When you do talk, it’s always in earnest, it means a lot.”
Greg smiled. “I guess the trick is learning to run a little faster. I could learn a thing or two from you.”
Lewis smiled too. “Only if you’ll teach me too.”
Greg laughed, imagining a little frustration roll away. “It’s a deal.”
Walking back down the hill, Greg couldn’t help shrugging. Well, it’s a start.
I’ll say. Panting here. Give me a second to catch up!
They walked away again in silence. A silence that was…ok.
Y’know, some days, I just want to say “Screw it all.” All this pain, all this frustration. I just wanna cuss and swear until the sky falls on me or the earth just up and frickin’ swallows me.
There are days I just want to drown in the tears I cry. I want to leave my cross in the dirt next to me and just stay there, battered and exhausted, and just give up.
There are days when I find myself walking backwards, looking at everything that happened and nothing that’s coming. I want to stop looking and longing, but I can’t get my eyes to turn away for fear it’ll all disappear, and everything I’ve known will vanish.
There are days I feel absolutely nothing. And those days can be the worst of all.
And then there are all the days in-between, where I’m just not sure what I’m feeling, and for some reason, it doesn’t matter.
I don’t know much of anything. About me, about the world, about God. And more than anything else, I hate not knowing.
The thing is, I sit here at this laptop, spewing all this great-sounding stuff; I spout off advice and try to follow it myself, but then there come days when I don’t know that I believe any of it.
And yet there’s this little spark deep down that just refuses to be put out, no matter what the world throws at it, no matter what I throw at it myself. It’s always been there, and somehow it got me through my darkest moments. It’s this little thing called hope, this small but stubborn fire.
It helps me speak blessings instead of curses.
It helps me dry my eyes and shake off the dirt.
It helps me turn around and face reality.
It helps me be ok with feeling nothing.
It helps me be joyful in the days I don’t know what I’m feeling.
It helps me hold on to the crazy belief, the crucial hinge of my existence, that God knows my name, and speaks it with love.
I am happy.
And yet how can I be?
Heavy is my heart, yet light is my spirit; I feel as if I could fly, though my mind lies leaden upon the cries of broken hearts.
There is so little I can do, for myself or for anyone else; and so, as I float awhile on the sweet, intoxicating beauty of voices raised in harmony, my soul gently whispers,
“Dance with me, Oh Lover of my soul, to the song of all songs; Romance me, Oh Lover of my soul, to the song of all songs…”
Not much else matters in life but that we are forever romanced by Christ. He’s been romancing us since our very creation; even as we were taking our first steps, He was caressing us; He has cried with us, laughed with us, sat up with us, ran and jumped with us, and always and forever whispering His love into the depths of our hearts. When we learn to see this, to hear his voice and see His love played out before our very eyes, peace is truly possible, and life has meaning and purpose.
One way He reminds me of His love is through choral music. Every note washes away my fear, frustration, and exhaustion for just a little while, flooding my soul with beauty; it feels as if my soul is about to come pouring out of my body and just run like river, flooding all the world with this beauty. It’s one of God’s little ways of romancing me, and I can’t help but be utterly in love with Him.
It’s moments like that that remind me why I fight: I fight because I am madly in love.
And even my crazed love cannot begin to compare to His love for me.
I’m at a loss for words now; what more is there to say? I love Him, and HE LOVES ME. Me, me, all of me, this mess of me, the best of me, the worst of me, just plain and total and wonderful and horrible me. HE LOVES ME.
And HE LOVES YOU. You, amazing you, broken you, sad you, joyful you, fearful you, reckless you. YOU. HE LOVES YOU.
Next time you speak with Him, sit with Him and simply speak as you would to the one you love most; then sit in the silence, and let Him romance you for awhile; even if you feel nothing, He is planting, tending, growing the seeds of His love in you.
There is something more than camaraderie in speaking in similar languages.
There is something more than fellowship in carrying similar scars.
There is something more than teamwork in holding each others’ broken hearts.
We are warriors. We are friends. Our paths in a sudden twist like a bolt of lightning have collided our worlds and mingled our realities as we dip ourselves into the rapids of the river of His mercy.
We will come out far more alive than we ever dreamed, face to face with Life and Love Himself.
Be not afraid, brethren.
The broken memories lay deep,
embedded like broken glass in the earth
moistened by the rain of tears.
It will take something more than rain
to break up the bedrock
long hardened by years
encapsulated in mere moments
It will take a moment of light,
a shaft piercing through the soul’s caverns
whose echoes will all but stifle
that still small voice.
A curious beauty,
the moment everything falls apart
and the shattered heart
has a chance to fall together
better than before.
Fear not your tears, your life. Expose the night
inside to grace’s ever-present light.
It’s one thing to feel nothing, another to feel everything and be overwhelmed. It’s something completely different to have both experiences at the same time: to be so overwhelmed by feeling that you feel nothing, and yet still somehow you feel everything, but just as a bombardment.
It’s a blessing to be a fantastic listener. It’s a curse to have everyone know it and pour out their heart to you. Yet it’s a blessing to know that you’ve been a great help and a good friend by using that gift.
It’s in my nature to care deeply for others. It’s also in my nature to be deeply pained by caring.
I love to give love and to receive love. But it hurts to love, and I don’t always believe it when I’m told I’m loved.
I love solitude. Yet I am terrified of loneliness. Social situations are an ordeal for me, but I crave them.
So I hang in the balance…literally. I’m like a pendulum, swinging from deep giving of myself to complete isolation, from ignoring what I feel to being crushed by it all. I guess the question is whether I’ll find a balance.
Except I’m not entirely sure I want that.
Maybe enough swings into the places I fall apart will finally shatter the barriers. Maybe someday my sojourns into the silence will be in peace rather than searching for it. Maybe the more I give, the less I’ll need after all.
I guess I’ve always kind of been a go-between: between charismatics and traditionalists, between the quiet at heart and the boisterous in spirit, and (by the grace of God alone, goodness knows why He chose me) between Love and the beloved. Maybe I’m not so much a pendulum as a keeper of a bridge, a pilot of a ferry. My back and forth might be more like a service to others than a personal journey. It’s just a long, hard journey in-between.
And maybe I’m totally wrong.
But whatever the case, I know this much: I’m not going to stop following my guiding star, the Crucified One, the King of the Empty Grave, my Prince of Peace.
To the moments of angelic laughter
too musical to hear,
the days so full of audible sunshine
that almost missed my ear,
say a prayer for me tonight.
To the turbulent winds of renewal
whispering peace and screaming revival
in strange harmonic din,
hold my hand through the fight.
And to love I feel and Love I don’t,
separate yet unified,
passion the echoes Passion in timelessness
far too long denied,
be my star, be my light.
I remember a time I loathed the idea I might have some limitation, some handicap. I always knew I had seemingly odd differences, but I began to see them as no longer neutral but profoundly negative. I trembled at the terrible notion that I might be terribly held back. And yet the stark reality of my own weaknesses, my difference from the world around me, was staring me in the face and daring me to discover its source, tossing up the most horrible possible answers. More horrible still, I latched onto the worst possible answer and hinged my life on that assumption about myself, about who, or maybe more accurately what, I was.
Three years later, I would discover this was false, that I had believed a lie. Or half a lie. I was wrong about WHY I was different. But if those three nightmarish years taught me anything, they confirmed more fully in me that I truly was different, limited, and in some sense weak, though I began perhaps to see a flicker of strength within.
Still, the fact of my weakness plagued me. For another three years, life would be full of questioning, self-loathing, and terrible displays of my weakness: I felt too much. Every face was either one more stimulus for an already-overwhelmed mind or one more reason to cringe into a corner. Every sound, every inflection of the voice, every touch, every speck of light–I was paralyzed at times. One moment I would be sympathizing with a loved one, the next nearly gagging on my own breath from the weight of the emotional stress. And all I could think was how much I sucked for not being normal.
The past few weeks, after learning that all my life I’ve been living without a choice in the matter, I’ve been trying to live as if I could make it go away, make it stop hurting. I know now that that’s impossible.
And somehow, that makes me happier.
There’s a strange sort of…peace, I suppose, in simply sitting back and saying, “I’m limited.” There’s a remarkable clarity in looking at all you wish you could do and saying, “So be it.” There’s an odd kind of consolation in simply stretching out your arms, looking to a crucifix, and saying, “My turn.”
I’m not despairing, I’m not despondent, just…a different kind of hopeful. I’m not hoping for healing anymore. I’m just hoping for the strength to see this journey through, cross and all. I’m choosing to accept the hardships of this life with patience and look to the promise of an eternity without pain or tears. I’m not giving up on this life, I’m just trying to see it through a new lens, one that does not rejoice in suffering but accepts it anyway and tries to be joyful through the pain. I’m seeing outside myself, seeing the beauty that God has placed in the world, not as simply a nice touch to the reality He created but as a message of His love for us, a source of his comfort on this rocky road to Paradise.
I don’t see all rainbows and butterflies anymore, but I’m not limited to the showers and worms either. No, at last, praise God, I’m beginning to see reality as it was meant to be seen, and it’s because I finally know that I can’t see it all.
I don’t even know if any of what just spilled from my fingertips even came out coherently, but it doesn’t matter. I know that if it’s touching the paper, someone, somewhere, needs to hear this. To whoever it is, know this: you are dearly loved, your pains are not punishment but profound signs of the love of a Father too dearly fond of us to let us live in mediocrity. He has shown us what it means to suffer in love, and the great rewards that are to come. It’s easier said than done, but speaking as one who is beginning to pass from darkness to light, it is well worth all you must surrender in love to He Who first loved you enough to die for you. May God bless you.
We stand on the brink of veracity,
purloining the very stars above in our excitement,
silent as their constant gaze–
and no one
can conceive the crazed joy
bubbling like iced soda in a sudden flare
that relaxes to sweet release.
in this moment,
all things rise on pelican wings
to carry me to new heights of revelation,
as if the very fabric of time
were flapped back to reveal eternity
But a spark of hope has crept in,
wound its way through the chasms within
to ignite my life.
And I’ll fan this flame
til the day I am finally
So day four is a tad late, but what the heck. I’ll have another poem up later and then we’re back up to speed!
So it’s National Poetry Writing Month (WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) and I’m not really coming up with any great inspirations for today. Hence, today’s poem will be a simple haiku (I’ll try to limit it to like one or two haiku’s a week).
The silence cries out
to burning pillars of hope
resplendent as dawn.
Hopefully I’ll have some better stuff this coming month, I look forward to challenging myself to create more frequently.